Stephens, Edward Bowring (DNB00)

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STEPHENS, EDWARD BOWRING (1815–1882), sculptor, son of James Stephens, a statuary, was born at Exeter on 10 Dec. 1815. His artistic training was begun under the guidance of John Gendall [q. v.], a local draughtsman and landscape-painter, but in 1835 he was sent to London and became a pupil of Edward Hodges Baily [q. v.], the sculptor. He was admitted a student of the Royal Academy in 1836, and in 1837 he gained a silver medal at the Society of Arts for a small original model of ‘Ajax defying the Gods.’ His earliest exhibited works were at the Royal Academy in 1838, when he sent ‘Narcissus,’ ‘An Arcadian Nymph,’ ‘Maternal Love,’ and a bust, and these were followed in 1839 by ‘Diana’ and another bust. Early in the latter year he went to Italy, and worked for some time in Rome. After an absence of nearly three years he returned to England, and lived for a time in Exeter, where he executed a life-size statue in marble of Lord Rolle. He removed to London in 1842, and in 1843 was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Academy for a small relievo representing ‘The Battle of the Centaurs and Lapithæ.’ In 1845 he assisted in the decoration of the summer pavilion at Buckingham Palace. Two groups, ‘Satan Vanquished’ and ‘Satan tempting Eve,’ attracted some notice in the Great Exhibition of 1851. Apart from his busts, among which were those of Lord Palmerston, Bishop Phillpotts, the Earl of Devon, Earl Fortescue, Viscount Ebrington, and other persons of note, he contributed to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy many groups and statues—‘Eve contemplating Death’ in 1853; ‘The Angel,’ and ‘Evening: Going to the Bath,’ in 1861; the Earl of Lonsdale (now at Lowther Castle) in 1863; ‘Euphrosyne and Cupid’ in 1865; ‘Cupid's Cruise’ in 1867; ‘Blackberry Picking: the Thorn’ in 1870; ‘Zingari’ in 1871; ‘Eve's Dream’ in 1873; ‘The Bathers’ in 1877; statuettes of ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Lady Godiva’ in 1879; and ‘Shielding the Helpless’ in 1883.

Besides these works he executed in 1862 a colossal marble statue of Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, placed on Northernhay, Exeter, where is also a seated statue in marble of John Dinham. His native city further possesses by him a colossal marble statue of Earl Fortescue, erected in the Castle Yard; a statue of the Earl of Devon in Bedford Circus, and one of the prince consort in the Albert Memorial Museum. His group in bronze of ‘The Deerstalker,’ exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1876, and generally regarded as his finest work, was purchased by public subscription and placed at the entrance to Northernhay. He produced also statues of Alfred the Great, for the Egyptian Hall of the Mansion House, London; the Duke of Bedford, for Tavistock; General Lord Saltoun, for Fraserburgh; Alfred Rooker, for Guildhall Square, Plymouth; Sir John Cordy Burrows, for Brighton; and a recumbent figure of Elizabeth, countess of Devon, for her monument in Powderham church, Devonshire. These were very successful works, and greatly increased his reputation.

Stephens was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1864, but it was generally believed that his election was due to his having been confounded with Alfred Stevens [q. v.], the sculptor of the Wellington monument in St. Paul's Cathedral. He died at 110 Buckingham Palace Road, London, on 10 Nov. 1882.

[Architect, 1882, ii. 315; Builder, 1882, ii. 669; Art Journal, 1882, p. 379; Pycroft's Art in Devonshire, 1883; Men of the Time, 1879; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1838–83.]

R. E. G.